The most important fact about the new Toyota Tundra pickup truck is the first name: Toyota.
Tundra comes with the estimable heritage of Toyota's quality and performance. There's also a long history of smaller Toyota trucks that are more carlike than some cars. Toyotas are nice vehicles. They ride nicely. They handle nicely. There is much to admire.
Thus the question: Does Tundra look mean enough to compete in the full-size truck market? Tundras go up against super macho Dodge Rams and Ford F-150s that have bulked up like brawnier F-250s. The GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado bulge a lot, too.
Toyota is actively marketing Tundra to Hispanics with a Spanish-language brochure and Web site as well as Spanish language TV commercials. It's estimated that Hispanics will make up 15 to 25 per cent of this year's 200,000 Tundra sales.
Tundra styling makes the macho effort with a heavily chromed grille. But chrome alone doesn't do it (see: Titan, Nissan). The front end of Tundra lacks a scowl.
But looks can be deceiving in the case of the Tundra. Certainly it drives and rides like a very big Camry. The driving position is Toyota terrific. It can tow with the others (10,000 pounds or so) and be loaded like the others. It's even faster (6.5 seconds) going 0-60 mph. There's parity with the Dodge, Ford, Chevrolet and GMCs when it come to fuel economy. The weight of a pickup tells against all there.
Previous Tundras were a bit smaller and tiptoed around the edges of the full-size market. They were aimed at personal, not commercial, use. That's changed with the new one.
Toyota comes with a full lineup of 30 models, nearly double that of last year. They include regular cabs, double cabs and a crew cab.
•Engines: 4L V-6; 4.7L V-8; 5.7L V-8
•Dimensions: 127", 146", 165" wheelbase; 209.8", 247.8" length
•Base price: $22,290; As tested $31,127
•Fuel economy: 5.7L V-8 16/20 mpg
Power comes from a new 5.7L V-8, a 4L V-6 and 4.7L V-8. That 5.7L packs 381 horses for that 6 second run to 60 mph.
One 5.5-foot bed length is fine for the weekend warrior but it also comes with a regular six-plus feet. The tailgate is hydraulically helped to open and close. Wheelbases run to 127 inch, 146 inch and 165 inches.
There's more room inside as well with more front and rear seat room. Door handles are big and assist handles and control knobs accommodate work-gloved hands.
Add to that options like vehicle stability control, disc brakes with ABS, and roll-sensing airbags. The steering column not only tilts but telescopes, a big pickup first.
So now it's the Big Four when it comes to full-size pickup trucks. The Toyota Tundra joins the big boys, Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra, Dodge Ram and Ford F-150.